To kick off National EMS Week, emergency service personnel from across Lycoming County gathered to remember one of their own at a memorial walk held in honor of Bill Henry. The walk was held during a public education day hosted by the Lycoming County LTS and EMS Council, which took place on Saturday morning at Paws Park in South Williamsport.
Henry was a graduate of the first paramedic class held at Williamsport Hospital School of Paramedic Training in 1979 and had a 30 year career in emergency services. He taught the first advanced cardiac life support class taught at the hospital, and in his long career as an instructor he went on to teach first responders how to provide life support for cardiac, pediatric, and trauma patients.
"Bill is the most unsung hero of the entire EMS system. He did so much to advance EMS behind the scenes, everything from protocol development, to research and establishing quality assurance," said Wendy Hastings, of the council.
"Bill helped develop the first decontamination center at Williamsport Hospital, and the new decontamination facility at Susquehanna Health," she added.
Walkers, who were lead by Henry's grandchildren and children, trekked about a mile around the park.
Henry's friends and relatives also hosted a table at the event which allowed people to make tie-dye T-shirts; a staple of Henry's wardrobe.
"He loved the tie-dye. Every weekend you'd find him in a tie-dye shirt and blue jeans working outside," recalled Courtney Patrick, Henry's granddaughter.
"So we thought we'd let people make some tie-dye. That way they will think of him when they wear it," she added.
Proceeds from the tie-dye table benefited the William E. Henry Memorial Scholarship through the Pennsylvania College of Technology. The scholarship is awarded to a student enrolled in the Paramedic Technician certificate program or Emergency Medical Services Associate of Applied Science program.
"Education was very important to my father, so when he passed we wanted to create something that would honor that," said Matthew Henry, Bill's son.
"The paramedic degree is an expensive, very intense program. We wanted to gear this scholarship towards adult learners, rather than just kids right out of high school. It's especially difficult for some adults to go back to school - they balance that huge financial commitment with their other adult responsibilities like feeding a family or paying a mortgage," he added.
Matthew explained his dream was to see the scholarship reach $25,000 - the amount needed to make the scholarship an annual award.
"If we can reach that, the money will just sit in a bank and the award will be paid out from the interest. Then it can continue benefiting students for years to come," Matthew said.
While the scholarship received many donations after Henry passed in October 2011, Matthew said they have since dwindled.
Those who would like to contribute to the scholarship may do so through the Pennsylvania College of Technology.